Five days of United Nations-sponsored indirect talks between Afghanistan and Pakistan wound up here today with U.N. mediator Diego Cordovez announcing that progress had been made on three of the four points in a U.N. plan for ending the Afghan war.
But Cordovez said the two sides remain divided on the question of an eventual withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, and another round of negotiations was scheduled for Dec. 16-20 to address the issue again. "The amount of suspicion involved here is enormous," Cordovez told a press conference.
The latest round of "proximity talks," continuing a series that Cordovez began in 1982, was conducted by the U.N. mediator shuttling between Afghan Foreign Minister Shah Mohammed Dost and Pakistani Foreign Minister Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, who were in adjoining offices at the United Nations' European headquarters here.
The talks did not get under way on Monday as scheduled because Dost insisted that the two ministers face each other across a table -- which Yaqub Khan refused to do. It took Cordovez two days to break the procedural deadlock.
Cordovez declined to give details of the talks but said he was convinced they had made progress. "The very fact that we have agreed to meet again in December shows this, because I have always said I would not schedule a fresh round unless progress had been made," he said.
Three of the four points in the United Nations plan for resolving the situation in Afghanistan have been substantially covered, Cordovez said. On the question of nonintervention and noninterference by other countries in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, he said, work has been "virtually completed."
International guarantees for the independence of the country have also been given, he said, adding that after the last round of talks in June he had sent a detailed report of the guarantees required to Washington and Moscow and had received responses from both capitals indicating the two nations were in agreement with the U.N.-drafted guarantees. One reply was "extremely detailed," Cordovez said, but he declined to say which one.
Asked if the United States and the Soviet Union were the only two nations involved in guaranteeing a peaceful solution, Cordovez said, "Yes, just those two."
Negotiations between Afghanistan and Pakistan on the repatriation of about 3 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan are "almost completed," he said, indicating they might be wound up at the next round of talks in December.
But Cordovez said the question of the withdrawal of Soviet troops remains "under discussion."